A KAYAK which was stolen and left to drift out to sea sparked a major sea rescue at the weekend.
Coastguards, lifeboat crews and police spent several hours searching the coast off Pevensey Bay after an empty red kayak was washed ashore onto the beach on Saturday morning.
They feared the occupant had fallen into the water and the coastguard helicopter was also involved in the search.
After a five-hour search police revealed the kayak had been stolen from the Hastings area the previous evening and that if there had been a person in the water they would have been located by the rescue teams.
A spokesperson for Eastbourne RNLI said, “Having initially examined the vessel along with coastguard officers on scene, the volunteer crew concluded that it was in good condition and unlikely to have been abandoned.
“A comprehensive sea search was therefore initiated for a possible casualty in the water.
“After two hours without success it was decided to increase the search area by launching Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat and rescue helicopter 125 to assist.
“Meanwhile Police and Coastguard Officers from Eastbourne and Bexhill were busy conducting enquiries ashore.
“Finally at approximately 1.30pm it was discovered that the kayak had been stolen from the Hastings area the previous evening.
“The combined rescue services came to the decision that if there was a person in the water they would have been located by the lifeboats or helicopter during their co-ordinated search.”